With teaching, learning, and research becoming increasingly dependent on digital resources, creating strong, stable, and accessible digital collections is a main focus of the Tufts Digital Library (TDL) service. Research materials such as oral histories, digital images, datasets, and texts can all be discovered and delivered through the Tufts Digital Library.

Poster describing the Tufts Digital Repository Initiative. Click to enlarge.

But high-quality research requires more than just access. Data must be managed with integrity and reliability over time so that future scholars can replicate experiments, confirm citations, and build on previous research. The TDL staff, drawing on expertise in both UIT Academic Technology (AT) andDigital Collections and Archives (DCA), provides the services that make this possible. But what does that mean, really?

  • Curation – objects in the Tufts Digital Library live in a curated environment where they will be described for access and preservation over time. DCA staff provides oversight in this area, with expertise in metadata, formats, and managing complex collections of interrelated objects.
  • Planning – long-term accessibility requires planning on many levels. Digital objects require detailed preservation plans to enable usability over time by ensuring that data is readable, renderable, and understandable. The repository itself also requires planning to ensure that tools for discovery and delivery continue to meet user needs and to enable access.
  • Technology – the Tufts Digital Library is based on the Fedora repository system. One important reason we chose Fedora as our base repository was the flexibility and support it provides for curatorial services. In addition to rich metadata capabilities, flexible configuration, and relationship management, Fedora allows for version control and tracking. This feature set enables us to track any changes or modifications made to an object in the repository. Keeping this version history is an important part of documenting the reliability and authenticity of research objects.

Building a curated digital collection begins with communication. Those who create digital research materials of enduring value should contact the DCA or AT to begin the conversation. This discussion is an opportunity to describe for us what kinds of materials you have through addressing the following questions: Are the materials field notes, images, maps, recordings, or manuscripts? Who created them? What formats are they in? How are they currently described? How are they used? And finally, how could they potentially be used in an open access environment? We can then explore the options for delivery to a global audience through integration with the growing resources in the Tufts Digital Library.

To begin your conversation, contact the DCA at archives@tufts.edu or x73737.

Anne Sauer, Director and University Archivist, Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University

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